My former student, Isha Datar, explains to us (with numbers) why mass production of beef is unsustainable. The solution is moving toward the “artificialization” of our food chain by using tissue engineering techniques, like, for instance, cultured meat technology. This technology has the potential to deliver cheap and nutritious meat proteins to a growing population in a sustainable manner.
Food scientists are working to replicate the nutrition, as well as the texture, taste and functionalities of meat and eggs, by utilizing plant-based products and in-vitro technologies, according to a presentation at the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) 2012 Annual Meeting & Food Expo in Las Vegas.
June 28, 2012 LAS VEGAS – Food scientists are working to replicate the nutrition, as well as the texture, taste and functionalities of meat and eggs, by utilizing plant-based products and in-vitro technologies, according to a presentation at the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) 2012 Annual Meeting & Food Expo in Las Vegas. The “emerging, next-generation plant-based meat (alternatives) promise to deliver the sensory experience of conventional animal proteins for specific culinary applications,” said Nicholas J. Genovese, PhD, visiting scholar and consultant at the University of Missour¬i-Columbia. In addition, scientists are growing in-vitro meat cells and muscle that may someday replace chicken, beef and pork. The average American eats around 170 lb of meat each year, according to VisualEconomics.com, a consumption level that cannot be sustained economically or environmentally, said Genovese. Globally, more than 60 billion animals are killed for consumption each year, and hens lay approximately 79 billion eggs. The production of animal-based food requires the growing use of a finite amount of land suitable for agriculture, contributes to deforestation and 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, and may alter the number and variety of species in an ecosystem, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. “The use of animals as a protein delivery mechanism is not sustainable,” said Ethan Brown, founder and CEO of Savage River Farms, Inc., which recently introduced a chicken substitute made from plant products. “Through the careful replication of texture, taste, and ‘mouthfeel,’ food science is advancing the degree to which chicken, beef, and other meats no longer require an animal origin but can instead be entirely plant-based,” said Brown. Joshua Tetrick, founder and CEO of Hampton Creek Foods, also is using plants to replicate the nutrition and other characteristics of eggs – for baking and more – through the company’s Beyond Eggs™ product. Tetrick said the demand for eggs continues to rise globally, while feed and regulatory costs soar. The in-vitro process of growing artificial meat involves collecting animal cells through a biopsy (or using embryonic stem cells), isolating the cells, and then utilizing a growth serum to grow the cells into real muscle fiber, said Mirko Betti, PhD, associate professor in the department of agricultural, food and nutritional science at the University of Alberta in Alberta, Canada.
IFT 2012 – New Frontiers in Sustainable, Animal-Independent Dietary Protein Production Technologies (symposium)
Las Vegas, Wednesday, June 27, 2012, 8:30:00 AM-10:00:00 AM
The interwoven dynamics of consumer demand, technology, and agricultural productivity are constantly redefining the paragon of food production. Consumers value delicious, nutritious, safe, and affordable food produced in accordance with their individual standards. However, inherent food production dilemmas exist in the dietary animal protein options available today. Most consumers prefer the savory flavor associated with animal-derived protein products, evidenced by increasing consumption trends over the past century within the developed world. These trends are expected to continue in the developing world, where increasing economic prosperity and population growth are driving consumer demand. Yet animal protein remains the most resource-intensive and environmentally detrimental protein consumed. Conversion efficiency of feedstock to dietary protein is lost during animal digestion and metabolic processes. Livestock production operations are a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, fresh water use, and zoonotic disease. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria prevalent in animal protein products are attributable to foodborne illnesses and costly recalls. Today, more than 59 billion animals are slaughtered globally each year for human consumption, many raised in inhumane conditions. By providing consumers with savory, animal-independent dietary protein options, dilemmas inherent to animal-based protein production can be effectively eliminated. To sustainably satisfy 21st century consumer demand for dietary protein, recent advances in plant-based meat and egg products, as well as in vitro-cultured meat, are introduced respectively as present and prospective solutions.
Mirko Betti shows the traditional kokumi product in his left hand and the cleaner kokumi product he and his team created with a more efficient technology in his right hand.
In the quest to lower sodium consumption in the North American diet, a team of University of Alberta researchers recently received $340,000 to conduct sensory and taste trials of the salt flavour enhancement product it created with a new, cleaner and more efficient technology.
The team took proteins from low value parts of poultry, fish and vegetables and created molecules that have kokumi characteristics. Kokumi was recently identified by the Japanese as the sixth basic taste, an addition to salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami (or savoury). Translated often as “heartiness” or “mouthfulness,” kokumi describes compounds in foods that don’t have their own flavour. Rather, they enhance the flavour with which they’re combined.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to significantly reduce the sodium in several food products by replacing it with the kokumi we developed. Because the kokumi amplifies the taste of the salt, it allows foods to have much less salt and be better for you, without sacrificing the flavour. Done right, most consumers wouldn’t know the difference,” says Mirko Betti, who leads the team that also includes Michael Ganzle, Andreas Schieber and Maurice Ndagijimana.
While the flavour enhancer is one product among others that allows food manufacturers to replace salt without sacrificing flavour, kokumi is considered the best because it provides the best punch or first impact of a food, the best mildness and the best long-lasting taste development.
Kokumi is already sold on the market to food manufacturers as a salt enhancer by at least one major international food and chemical company who creates it from soy beans. However, the traditional way in which kokumi is manufactured also leads to the creation of many unhealthy by-products.
What makes Betti’s kokumi unique is the way in which he manufactured it.
The ALES team broke the proteins from the various sources into their component fragments as is usually done. It then selected specific fragments and mixed them with sugars but instead of using the typical heat transfer process to create the kokumi molecules, it used a fermentation process, thereby drastically reducing the unwanted by-products and making the process much more cost-effective.
Plans are now underway to use the funding to conduct sensory and taste trials to fine tune the technology.
The potential for the kokumi market is staggering as consumption of the food enhancer isn’t linked to the ill effects, including heart disease, associated with overconsumption of sodium, which is common in the North American diet.
According to Health Canada, Canadians consume twice the amount of sodium they need every day. While it’s an essential part of a healthy diet, too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, a major risk factor for stroke, heart disease and kidney disease. Overconsumption of sodium has also been linked to increased risks of osteoporosis, stomach cancer and the severity of asthma.
The funding, which was provided by the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency and Alberta Innovates – Bio Solutions, gives the team a two-year window in which to conduct the trials and refine its technology to eventually patent and sell it.
Dr. Mirko Betti and co-applicants from University of Alberta have received $ 340,000 from Alberta Innovates – Bio Solution to find new technologies to generate kokumi sensation from undervalued poultry and fish proteins.
The term kokumi refers to the Japanese concept relating to the capacity of an ingredient to improve the taste of food. Kokumi is considered the sixth basic taste to which the following three types of flavour sensations are attributed: mouthfulness and continuity (long-lasting taste development), punch (first impact) and mildness. Kokumi molecules have the ability to enhance salt perception and thus allow reduced salt concentrations in foods.
Reduction of dietary sodium is a priority for Health Canada and the Canadian food industry. The average consumption of dietary sodium by Canadians is estimated at 3500 mg/day (Barr 2010). Reducing dietary sodium by 1840 mg/day is recommended to reduce the blood pressure by 5.06/2.70 mmHg in adult hypertensive patients. Therefore, strategies to replace sodium in processed foods without compromising the taste include the use of salty taste and flavour such as glutamate or kokumi substances.
The main objective of the present project is the development of a new process for the production of new molecules having salty and/or kokumi tastes. Proteins from poultry and fish processing by-products as well as some undervalued vegetable proteins will be used to generate kokumi sensation.
Can we reduce salt in meat products? Yes we can…with beta-glucans and High Pressure Process Technology
As consumers wish to engage in healthier eating without sacrificing the tastes and textures they are used to, food scientists like ourselves are looking for alternative ingredients and processing methods to create healthier familiar foods.
Sodium has recently become subject to much negative attention due to its association with hypertension and cardiovascular disease, and thus reducing sodium content has become a goal in several processed foods. Reducing sodium content in fast, frozen and snack foods is a relatively simple task. Reducing sodium in processed meats is not as simple.
While salt contributes to flavour, it most importantly contributes to arguably the most important characteristic of processed meats: texture. Meat gelation involves the unwinding of salt-soluble meat proteins and their subsequent aggregation. Salt helps to increase protein solubility. When salt is reduced in processed meats, the elasticity of the meat decreases as well.
High pressure processing is a relatively new technique in the food industry. It is able to inactivate microorganisms and therefore increase shelf life of several different types of foods. In processed meats, it is able to increase water binding and protein-protein interactions, two characteristics important for creating a desirable protein gel.
While high pressure processing can aid in gel formation, it does not suffice on its own. Our study looks at beta-glucan as a partial salt replacement in high-pressure processed chicken. Beta-glucan is a dietary fibre (polysaccharide) naturally derived from several foods; in this case, oats. Fibre has many pronounced health benefits and the FDA recommended daily intake is 3 g. Protein/polysaccharide complexes can increase protein solubility; a necessary step in the formation of a desirable meat gel.
Our studies published in Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies and Food Chemistry showed that a chicken meat gel with 1% NaCl and 0.3% beta-glucan has comparable hardness to a gel with 2.5% NaCl when processed at 40 C and 400/600 MPa. This is promising evidence suggesting that beta-glucan can be used as a partial salt replacement in processed meats while maintaining the mouthfeel of full-salt products.